Tag Archives: Sunset

Sunsets (PHSH Effect #27)


I was going to say I chose to do a sunset so we could get over our winter blues, but we actually had a pretty mild winter where I am, so not too sure how well that works. Whether or not you also had a mild winter, learning to make a sunset effect in Photoshop can still be fun!

This tutorial is one of the simpler ones, so you’ll have plenty of time to practice, and might pick it up faster than some of the others!

For this tutorial, it’s going to really help you out if you choose an image that’s almost a sunset, anyway. I initially tried this effect myself (as well as some Youtube tutorials) using a picture that had high-noon sun lighting and it just did not work. At all. I’ll show you that disaster at the end of the tutorial, so you can see.

Now normally, I’d consider using a picture that’s already close to what you want to achieve as ‘cheating’ – if you were going to just use the pre-made picture as-is, you might as well go all the way and just find a full sunset picture – but seeing the difference between the high-noon picture and the one I ended up using was so drastic, I’m giving it a pass. (Also because I couldn’t figure out how to make it work on the high-noon picture)

This is the picture I ended up using:

Step 1

After re-sizing your picture to fit your new work document, you’ll want to make a Gradient Layer.

You’re going to have to create your own sunset colour gradient for your image. The specific colours you use will heavily depend on the colours your image already has. If you don’t pick colours that are already somewhat close, it won’t tint the image correctly and will end up looking very fake.

You’ll want to use 4 sunset colours, and then the last colour you’ll need to make light grey.

For my image, these are the colours I used:

1st: Pale Yellow: Colour Code #fffac4

2nd Brighter Yellow: Colour Code #fcf38d

3rd Pale Orange: Colour Code #ffbb5b

4th Brighter Orange: Colour Code #ff8b2e

If you plan on using this effect often, feel free to Save this Gradient by giving it a name and then pressing the New button to add it to your Gradient Presets.

Once you have the correct colours, you’ll want to click on the colour bar to make one of those pointer things show up on the top of the bar, and then change it’s Opacity to 75%. Or, you can just drag the pointer that’s already at the top on the left side (over the pale yellow) over until it’s over the Pale Orange and change that ones Opacity.

You’ll also want to change the Opacity of the pointer that’s over the Grey to about 30%.

Once you’ve changed those Opactities, click the Okay button.

Then once you’re back in the Gradient Fill dialogue box, change the Style to Radial, change the Angle to 130 and change the Scale to between 120-135, depending on what works best with your image. (Mine was 135)


Step 2

Now we’re going to change the Brightness of the picture. To do this, go back to the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer at the bottom of the Layers Panel and select Brightness/Contrast from the menu.

In the Panel that pops up, you’ll either want to slide the Brightness slider down or just replace the value by typing in -26.

After you successfully lower the Brightness, just click on the double arrows at the top right-hand side of the panel to close it.


Step 3

Now we’re going to add a filtered look to the whole picture. To do this, we’re going to add 2 Solid Colour Layers.

To make the 1st Colour Layer, go back down to the Create New Fill/Adjustment Layer at the bottom of the Layers Panel and click on Solid Colour.

The first colour we’re going to pick is going to be a darker colour. For my image, I had to choose a shade of Brown (#644503), however in one of the tutorials I saw on Youtube, the person made this colour a pinky Red. This will depend entirely on the image you chose.

If you find it easier, feel free to use the colours I’m using in this tutorial, and then once you’ve gone through all the steps, go back and see if changing the colours will make the image look better/more realistic.

The next colour layer we’re going to add is going to be a bright colour. For my image, I found a bright Orange (#ff7200) worked well. The Youtube tutorial person made this colour a pale yellow.


Step 4

Now that we’ve got both the colour layers, it’s time to incorporate them into the image!

Still being on your bright colour layer, change the Opacity to 35% and change the Blend Mode to Soft Light.

Next, go back to your darker colour (Brown) layer and change it’s Opacity to 27%, and then change this one’s Blend Mode to Vivid Light.


Step 5

At this point, you should see your image looking sunset-y. If you don’t and you’ve been following the tutorial colours, don’t worry. You might just have to change the colours to suite your own image.

For this step, we’re going to go back to the Gradient layer, and change it’s Blend Mode to Hard Light.

It doesn’t look like my image colour changed because I already had the Gradient layer’s Blend Mode to Hard Light. If it was on Normal (like yours should be), this should be what it looks like:


Step 6

Can you believe we’re already at the last step? Yep, it’s true!

The last thing you need to do is drag your darker colour (Brown) layer so it’s sitting underneath the Gradient layer.

To do this, just click on the layer in the Layer’s Menu and then drag it until it’s under the Gradient layer. Once it’s in the right place, take your finger off the mouse button.

Once you’ve got the darker colour under the Gradient, all you need to do is save because this effect is now done! Don’t forget to save both a PHSH file (.psd) and a picture file (.png, .jpeg, etc.), this way you can go back if you need to adjust something and/or to just play around with colours or layers later.

Also, as promised, here are my failed attempts at creating a sunset on a picture with high-noon lighting.

First, the original picture:

And now the first failed attempt. This attempt was the one I did by following a Youtube tutorial.

And this is the failed attempt from after I changed colours to see if that would help.

The 2nd attempt was closer, but no matter how I tweaked the colours – whether making them more red, more orange or more yellow – I just couldn’t make it work with the lighting. No matter what I did, it just kept looking fake/edited. I also had to add the sun to the image, and I feel like that also contributed to the failure of it.

So yeah, in case you didn’t know: just because I make these tutorials doesn’t mean I don’t also still fail at making effects! This is why I always try to remind you guys not to feel bad or get down on yourselves if you try an effect and it doesn’t work. There are many factors that go into making an effect work – the picture you choose, your version of Photoshop, and sometimes I swear just if you’re having a lucky day.

Keep practicing and fiddling around and you should get it eventually!

Also I don’t remember if I’ve ever said, but if you guys ever have questions about any of the effects I share, please feel free to reach out and ask! The whole reason I started this tutorial series was to help people (mainly indie authors) and it wouldn’t be very helpful if you found the tutorial confusing, or come away with more questions than answers.

Like this tutorial? Check out the rest of the series here!